Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dog days of summer

It's hot now, every day. This last week was in the upper 80's or low 90's. Things are really starting to dry out.

Goat milking is becoming routine now. Ashley is the grey goat, and is very mellow. Mary-Kate, on the other hand, is a handful. She typically gives a kick about 1 minute into milking, at which point I put the hobbles on her and she's fine for the remainder of the milking. I'm not sure why she does that. She's also quite fond of our bag of black oilseed, which we throw in with their grain as a special treat. Any time I don't have a hold on her collar, she makes a bee line for the bag and stuffs her head in as fast as she can, in hopes that she'll get a mouthful of the stuff before I catch up with her.

In an average day we get just over 5 quarts of milk now. As good as it is, it's hard to drink that much milk, so Rachel has a bunch of cheesemaking supplies on order. This is what our fridge looks like now

Yesterday evening we went to the St. Joseph valley tractor show, which is held about a mile from our house. Loads of neat old old tractors, including steam tractors. In true midwest style, everyone was driving golf carts or riding mowers around the grounds. That's apparently how midwesterners maintain their ample figures (heaven forbid that anyone should have to walk!) There was also a swap meet, where you could buy lots of junk that people found in the back of their garage. A few of the items for sale were actually tractor related.

One thing which surprised me was the number of restored "antique" lawn tractors. To me, these riding mowers have all the aesthetic appeal of a pair of dirty socks, but then again there's a lot of things I still don't quite understand about the midwest.

After a number of weekends cutting, splitting, hauling, and stacking firewood, I'm up to a grand total of 3 cords. Only 5 more to go! Ugh. I can only imagine how much fun this would be cutting everything by hand (without a chainsaw, that is) like the people who lived in this house for the first 75 years probably did. Maybe we'll just move into our chicken coop if it ever comes to that, so we won't need so much firewood to heat it. The chickens can just move into our house then.

One thing that's pretty neat out here -- there are tons of amphibians around. One morning this week, while picking potato beetle larvae out of the garden, I noticed no less than 6 little frogs (they're the size of your thumbnail) sitting on just the potato plants. It's nice to have help in keeping the bug population down. Every time I go into our basement now, I can find toads and salamanders, who all seem to be quite happy down there. Also helpful on the mosquito front are myriads of dragon flies. Today I was looking at the barbed wire top strand on one of our fences. I noticed about a dozen dragon flies sitting on it, each spaced about 6 feet apart, waiting for a little unsuspecting bug.

Earlier this week, our neighbor Stan invited Henry and I to go fishing with him for bluegills. I seemed to catch only undersize fish (this is normal for me), but everyone caught lots of them, and we ended up with about a dozen keepers. They're quite tasty, but I know it's best not to research what's actually in them. The state of Ohio (which is next door) has come out and said that there's not a single body of water in the entire state where it's completely safe to eat the fish, primarily due to mercury pollution from coal burning power plants.

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